Video by Mary Rinzel
Watch this video to see “FALL(ing)” come to life.
With “FALL(ing),” Present Music, the Milwaukee Ballet Company and UWM’s Peck School of the Arts join hands to collaborate on a unique performance.
Presented Oct. 26-27 at 8 p.m. in the Helen Bader Concert Hall of the Zelazo Center, the creative process for the concert began more than a year ago. Simone Ferro, chair of the Dance Department, approached Kevin Stalheim (’81 MM Music), artistic director of Present Music, and Michael Pink, artistic director of Milwaukee Ballet Company.
She proposed that the three groups combine resources – “the convergence of an academic powerhouse, an avant-garde music group and a ballet company that is embracing change.”
Ferro discovered that Stalheim and Pink shared her enthusiasm. “What could happen if these three cutting-edge creative engines combined to exchange technical support, music, dancers and choreography?”
The first challenge seemed the most daunting. With calendars set for their 2012-13 seasons, would there still be dates for performances that would work for all three partners?
“All the stars were in alignment – we were able to find two dates in October to produce this event,” says Ferro. The timing during the Peck School’s Year of the Arts also was fortuitous. “The university was ready for this collaboration because of the groundwork laid by Year of the Arts planning.”
For Ferro, “This three-headed artistic effort was very interesting. Sometimes, we had very conflicting as well as very supportive ideas. But I love that kind of interaction.” She adds that bringing professional musicians, dancers and choreographers together to work side by side with student dancers worked because “everybody has been very humble, trusting and confident that our work together will be outstanding. And, our partners clearly value the freshness our students bring to the process.”
In addition to the artistic, the collaboration extended to management aspects of the production – box office, marketing and audience development. Bader Hall was chosen as a convenient and comfortable venue for the different audiences served by all three partners.
At UWM, the teamwork ranged across disciplines. James Shields, associate professor in the School of Architecture & Urban Planning, was tapped to reconfigure the stage area of Bader Hall. Alumnus Kellie Bronikowski (’09 BFA Film, ’12 MFA), associate lecturer in the Film Department, is creating a new film related to the concept of Ferro’s piece that will be projected on the stage.
In addition, Ferro applied for and received a Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) grant for one of the students working with her on the choreography of a new work for “FALL(ing).”
The October performances feature four choreographers – Ferro, Senior Lecturer Dani Kuepper (’97 BFA Dance, ’03 MFA), and Milwaukee Ballet Company members Timothy O’Donnell and Petr Zahradnícek. All four will premiere new dance works to live music performed by the Present Music Ensemble under the leadership of Stalheim. The works will be performed by Milwaukee Ballet, and for Zahradnícek’s work, will feature student dancers.
Ferro sees this type of collaboration as essential during challenging economic times. “We need to review how art can be delivered in a way that shares resources, and how we can reach people that we otherwise wouldn’t.” These days, Ferro is talking to the Peck School’s student dancers about the state of the profession. “I’m encouraging them to bring creative thinking to issues such as audience development.”